Taro Logo
Profile picture

Mentorship Q&A and Videos

About Mentorship

Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. A mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.

What resources do you recommend to learn more about engineering management and leadership especially in a startup context?

CTO at Early-stage startup profile pic
CTO at Early-stage startup

I recently became CTO of a small early-stage startup where I'm leading all technical efforts, including by still doing some coding, but am mostly managing other engineers and focusing on the broader technical needs of the company. Previously, I was a technical lead and IC at startups where I had led small teams of other software engineers on product development, but was more in the weeds technically/coding a lot and was not responsible for people management. I'd like to learn about resources I can utilize to further develop my engineering leadership and people management skills.

What resources would you recommend to learn more about the following:

  • How to build people management skills as a first time engineering people manager? Are there open source or free trainings or resources that are good for this?
  • The latest engineering leadership topics, especially in a startup environment (e.g. how other leaders are tackling common technical and leadership challenges)
  • How to meet or connect with other engineering managers/leaders (e.g. startup CTOs, VP of engineering, or technical founders) outside my company to learn from their experiences or share lessons or knowledge with each other

Interested in any types of resources including blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, or virtual or in-person communities or meetups (particularly in NYC) etc. I have some favorite resources so far, but it would be great to learn about what resources others in the Taro community find useful. Thanks!

Show more
294 Views
1 Comment

How to thrive in a new role that's much bigger than what I'm used to?

Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google profile pic
Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google

What should I think about and focus my efforts on when I get a project and a role that's of (1) bigger scope and (2) tighter deadlines than I'm used to?

Context

A reorg has suddenly thrust me into the TL role for a very high-profile project on a new team. This project is part of OKRs 4 levels up the chain and has the eyes of several director level people across different functions. From what I've heard, this project already suffered from "too many cooks in the kitchen" syndrome, and on top of that, this project has delivery date set in Q3, which is quite aggressive from our org's standards.

I've landed in this position because I was transitioning to this team prior to the reorg, AND the EM/TL/PM/2 L5s has been reorg'ed out, and they needed someone who had previously TL experience and was willing to do it.

I've previously TL'ed a team of 4 people, with important but "normal" priority projects. This is clearly a great opportunity for me, but I am afraid I'm not ready to handle it and I'm at a bit of loss as to what I should be focusing most of my effort on. With the tight deadlines I have, I feel like every day will be a battle so any advice on how to approach this will be appreciated.

I have one other L5 supporting me who I trust very much and a new EM who's rumored to be very good. We currently have 4 SWE including me and we'll be getting more at least 4 more engineers, with lots of adjacent teams helping out. I do also have good standing and connection in the org overall and I know how to get a "normal" project in our org over the line (I did an in-org transfer).

What I'm thinking about right now

  1. Knowledge Transition: since a lot of critical members of the team are leaving and I am taking over, I feel the biggest priority in the near term is to absorb as much knowledge from them as possible. So far, they have some prototypes, and I wanted to get my hands dirty, so maybe I should focus on is to understand the work that's been done really well, and the design choices that's been made already?
  2. Gather support: I feel like biggest personal risk is that I don't know how to show up in higher-stake meetings with directors. Is it any different? Where do you all see the risk is?
  3. Enable the team: I know the biggest responsibility I have, more than anything, is to make sure the team is able to work on the project and help us deliver this. Aside from the L5, I don't know a lot about the people. I feel I should putting my focus on ensuring they are as successful as possible, not focusing on my own technical knowledge as much, for us to succeed. Is that a good way to think about it?
  4. Self-management: I anticipate I'll be very stressed and pulled in many directions. I already feel this way. What are some tools I can leverage in "crunch time"?
Show more
362 Views
4 Comments

How can I handle a situation where honest mentoring resulted in junior acting rude?

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community

I am a senior engineer and closely guiding a junior engineer on the implementation of a new micro service. I have provided her the high level design for same and staying consistently involved in any low level design discussion, blockers and code reviews.

However, I am involved in multiple tracks and it’s not possible for me to randomly pause everything and answer her queries right away. Therefore, to keep her unblocked, as there are stricter deadlines, I also setup twice a week invite where she can get my help on any discussion or questions, as required.

Still, in an unofficial feedback she told me that she was blocked on my time and I need to give more time to discussions and PRs. I tried to give some helpful return feedback that she should be asking pointed questions to get quicker help, and also she should do some research before right away asking for help. I also told personal examples from my career journey regarding how I navigated situations when I got blocked on a senior’s time.

However, this resulted in her passive aggressive behaviour towards me. One such behaviour example is in code review - when I commented that local environment specific initialisation code shouldn’t be in the main classes, she responded that she doesn’t see any problem and it’s just unnecessary.

How do I handle this situation better?

Show more
526 Views
5 Comments

How to remove yourself from being a bottleneck?

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
Anonymous User at Taro Community

Due to unforeseen circumstances from past 6 - 8 months, I've been the Senior most engineer in my team, (I have a total of just ~2.7 YOE). My team consists of ~12 SDE 1s (New Hires) and 2 SDE2s (The other SDE2 being promoted very recently). My manager does a great job filling the role of Senior Engineer which reduces bit of pressure off of me.

However, due to necessity in the team I've ended up being SME in all the services owned by our team. This leads to everyone reaching out to me to help them with their queries, I try to document some of these and add in the Wikis so that it can be easily accessible for others next time. However, when it comes to certain tickets and issues, I end up having to pick that task up myself (Manager does not ask me to, but at same time i know that for someone else the ramp up time required to fix the issue would be too high).

I recently tried to reduce this (2~ months ago), this led to our overall ticket health getting worse and I had to again start looking into them myself and guiding each on-call cycle with right action items for the tickets etc.

This involves me helping them to do the following :-

  • Prioritize correct tickets to look into for the on-call cycle.
  • A potential fix for the ticket so that they know where to look into.

Due to which it ends up taking 6+ hours weekly to keep this running. I don't really mind doing this; however, I don't feel like this is a scalable solution and would eventually want to slowly scale down from doing this and have my team being able to be self-sufficient.

What's the best way to go about this without affecting my team's ticket health?

Show more
2.5K Views
4 Comments